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City of Boise set to add 14,000 tons of composting capacity next year

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Boise’s compost operation is about to get bigger. 

By popular demand, the City of Boise is planning a 7.8-acre expansion of the city’s composting facility at its farm off of Cloverdale Road south of the city. This project will allow the city to keep up with the growing influx of kitchen scraps and yard clippings Boiseans are filling their green-lidded carts with instead of sending it to the Ada County Landfill. 

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Peter McCullough, Boise’s Materials Program Manager, shared the program’s popularity and requested city council’s nod of approval to build the expanded composting facility at a work session Tuesday afternoon. 

“The composting program collects approximately 30% of the total tons in residential waste,” he said. “It’s by far and away our greatest diversion program we have for residential waste.”

More waste = more compost

In Boise, residents with curbside trash pick-up also get access to composting collection. The bins can be used to dispose of eggshells, coffee grounds, leaves, grass clippings, paper bags, vegetable scraps and fruit peels. Once the material is turned into compost, it is used on city properties for gardening and city residents can pick it up free of charge at two different distribution sites. 

The expansion will add additional acreage to the composting site, allowing the city to take in more material and turn it into compost more efficiently because the piles will not need to be moved in the middle of the process to accommodate the volume of compost. It will add 14,000 tons of extra capacity every year. 

A 2014 study of the Ada County landfill found the majority of Boise’s waste was organic material. In response to the study, the City of Boise launched the composting program in the summer of 2017. Since, it has been immensely popular with residents and has a 97% participation rate. 

How much will it cost?

The expansion will cost $950,000 from the city’s Public Works Enterprise Fund in the upcoming fiscal year, which is funded from fees paid by users. The fees necessary to pay for the project will be raised over several years time so it will not be a large increase all at once. It is unknown yet how much curbside pickup fees will increase next year because the draft budget has not been released. 

City Council Member Patrick Bageant asked why the price tag for the project was so high for something without a physical building. In response, McCullough said in order for the facility to be up to code it needs to be graded and have a specific rock surface for proper drainage. The city compared the prices for the project with other similar grading projects and it came back roughly comparable, he said. 

“If the choice is to expand the facility or divert the excess material back into the landfill, it makes more sense to me to expand the facility,” Bageant said.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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